For learning meditation, using apps are great. Headspace is a great app that I highly recommend. Calm is also good (already mentioned).
"How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night." Psalm 1:1-2
Great resources here: http://www.desiringgod.org/messages/meditate-on-the-word-of-...
Downhill skiing, bouldering, and sea kayaking are other activities which have offered enough of a rush to draw my enthusiastic participation, but which, once I'm in them, have tended to produce a calm, clear, present-focused mental state. I suppose that adrenaline functions as a pretty powerful "BE HERE NOW" signal.
Also, I've had experiences which felt like meditation in conjunction with psychedelics. At a campout last spring I remember spending most of an hour giggling to myself as I attempted to clear my mind of all words... I was just sitting there looking at the moon, "shoosh"ing my brain whenever words popped up, trying to just be in the moment, and see what "wordless thoughts" might feel like.
They ask students to practice 2 hours per day. I rarely do two hours, but find one hour in the evening to work. I also still drink alcohol on occasion, which means I will never qualify for the 20-day retreat. C'est la vie.
Check it out at http://dhamma.org
If you ever want to learn meditation, apply for a Vipassna retreat, take 10 days out of your schedule and see the difference. You can upvote me later.
I wake early to meditate for 20 minutes before I do anything else. The book describes the technique where you concentrate on a mantra, in this case 'I AM'. If your mind start on thoughts, you gently come back to the mantra but never fighting the thoughts.
The book is pretty short and is a good read for someone taking up meditation (I've never done it before and I found it to be a good primer).
Together with this meditation in the morning, I exercise immediately after. Been doing it for a few months now and I have found that my days get off to a really positive start. I have more energy and less likely to be easily agitated.
-sitting down in a shower with the lights off
-going for a walk in the forest with no cell phone
-laying in a hammock by a river
-long distance running while focusing on my breathing and form
Basically anything that enables me to cease compulsive thinking/worrying patterns and focus on the here and now
I am a very pragmatic meditator. I meditate around once a week whenever I feel stress building up. As someone with little technique, and little desire to wade through mostly esoteric resources, Calm manages to guide me through a very relaxing meditation.
Okay, I am not that crazy of a fanboy as that reads. I realize that its not THAT revolutionary, and it might be a bit expensive if you use it that little, but hey, it works for me.
I'll be happy to answer any specific questions that you may have about those practices.
Long-term meditation fights age-related cognitive decline:
via this article:
If you know Hindi the Patanjal Yoga Pradeep is the quintessential treatise on the subject, including a systematic reconciliation of the six systems of Indian Philosophy.
I've been studying the Pratyahara phase of yoga lately. The withdrawal of the senses inward away from external sensory stimuli. It is quite powerful, and opens you up to the ability to quite literally witness the formation of thoughts from subtle nothingness.
I may not have been sufficiently charitable in reading this, but this appears to be either butchering the English language, or utter tripe.
At the same time it couldn't be nothing, because how can something (a thought) come from nothing. It wasn't quite gross enough to be perceivable hence I termed it subtle nothingness..
If I find myself distracted by a personal situation, I try and dissect it according to what values I hold dear, and how my current and past actions have done to further or detract from those values. This can involve some journaling or talking to myself, so I tend to save it for showers, late nights working, or long drives.
That being said I'm pretty amateur at this kind of stuff, but even the very basic level at which I practice some form of meditation really helps clear my head in the fast-paced and sometimes petty world of tech.
My interest in meditation is somewhat indirect; IIUC, it's an apparently-necessary stepping-stone to energy perception/study/work, becoming aware of the process of falling asleep, and trance states, three subjects I've been extremely interested in for some time, but which (like meditation) I have no idea where to start with. My attempts to figure and figure them out intuitively haven't really gone anywhere concrete either (...yet).
If anyone has any pointers on studying meditation to the above ends (and particularly if you have any ideas/advice about the things I've mentioned!) I'd love to hear whatever you have to say (email is cool, but I might take a while to respond).
I've actually wanted to ask this on HN for a little while now, but a thread for such topics would... well I don't think it'd be squarely kicked out, but it likely wouldn't be voted up too high.
In the monasteries and temples of China and India, where Karate can be traced back to, martial arts were practiced not only for self-defense but for therapeutic benefits as well.
If you have trouble sitting still, sometimes a moving meditation can help. This does not mean you have to go out and study a martial art for 4302842 years. It can be a simple exercise.
Think of a nice 30 minute walk that you enjoy taking and go out and walk. Try to be present and observe your own footsteps. Try to feel the weight shifting from one foot to the other. Notice if the sun is out. Can you feel it on your skin? Does it pick up your energy? Or does it make you tired? What kind of relationship do you have with the sun? Don't just think about it intellectually. Feel it out. Its happening right now (if you're on the walk). Bring yourself back to the shifting of your weight between your two legs.
Meditation is about being present. Its about tuning into yourself, without the filters of your mind. You don't need anything.
Another simple meditation exercise, which also helps to massage the organs with the breath:
-Lay flat on your back
-Place one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest
-Can you make the hand on your belly rise up as you inhale,
without making the hand on your chest move up. In other words,
you're breathing into your belly and not your chest. This is a
more natural, deeper breath. Repeat for ten minutes, or however
long. Even after 10 breaths, you might notice a difference.
Simple Habit - https://www.simplehabit.com/
Oak - https://www.facebook.com/groups/1673249232974412/
Guided meditation is maybe useful first time. They are distracting and they are disruptive for genuine meditation. I know some people like them.
I don't follow any systems, I like to use binaural waves, often created by myself, and just relax. Mind sometimes runs and it is OK to let it run for a while, then calm it down. Focus on body parts and progressively relax them for longer meditation.
While no sound is required, some background soundscape is good to insulate you from environment.
Sometimes my meditation is focused on emptying the mind, sometimes I enjoy thinking in deep states of relaxation about different things. Both work well. Once you are practiced enough, you can go to deep states without falling asleep. Even if you do, it is not a big deal.
However, to effectively learn how to practice this form of meditation, expert guidance is recommended. There is internet resources, classes, or even meditation retreats to better learn this form of meditation.
They used to officially believe all sorts of crazy things, like that their meditation could make you fly, or make you invisible, or that if the square root of 1% of a city meditated, then it would dramatically lower violent crime.
They charge huge amounts of money for very little value - a course to learn TM is something like $500, even though the whole technique could be described in 30 seconds.
They claim that you get a unique mantra based on your personality, and that the mantra is a powerful magical vibration energy word (or some such junk). In actuality, the mantra is chosen based on only your age (and sometimes gender).
The TM centers also sell snake oil - they have tons of teas, powders, supplements, etc, for cleansing your toxic energy.
Of course they have studies done by practitioners of TM that claim it is amazing, but there aren't really any unbiased studies about it.
The current leader of the movement, a former physicist, received the Ignobel Prize (like the Nobel prize but for stupidity) for his beliefs in the crazy parts of TM.
All of that being said, as a technique, it's not bad for meditation. It's just run by a shady organization that believes in magic and will charge you tons of money.
(I also do a few of the things wi-ikkyu mentions, but I differentiate them from meditation, but acknowledge some of the similarities.)
> The form of meditation practiced in our Order is that of the Soto Zen tradition. It is called “serene reflection meditation”, which is a translation of the Japanese terms “zazen” and “shikan-taza”.
What works for me is just to sit there at my computer seat, eyes closed, with jazz playing on my headphones. Breathe in, breathe out. I do it for at least half an hour before starting work.
When you get down to it, mediation is just about forcing your mind to run in subconscious, maintenance mode.
jazz playing on my headphones
Many people have different systems and different ideas as to what constitutes meditation, but it is essentially investigation into the nature of being, or the nature of mind, or the nature of Reality. In close, attentive and relaxed examination, one's mind+body complex is gradually becoming more attuned to better information about the quality of direct experience.
When I first got into practicing, I started reading voraciously every book on Buddhism I could find. Still, one of my favorite resources is accesstoinsight.org/ which has a compiled index of all the preserved discourses of the Buddha (in English and other languages).
Nowadays, you may find Zazen strong and attractive, it is also a field of poetry / reflection / study / meditation / lifestyle that simplifies everything down to "Proper Meditation Posture = Enlightenment" which, with the older I get and the more experienced I become, seems more and more true (!) If you'd like a book recommendation, I highly praise "Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind" by Suzuki Roshi.
In a nutshell, there's calm-abiding meditation, which is almost as if one is training engagement-at-will of their parasympathetic nervous system; and then there's insight-meditation, which comes about spontaneously and happens more frequently the stronger one's study and contemplation is/are.
The mission is not "to create a new system in the imagination to grasp onto" -- samadhi and the cultivation of wisdom is about de-patterning or un-patterning. So, the perfect "system" or morsel of contemplation unravels all on its own. Keep that in mind.
You may wonder what about Buddha's teaching really attracts me, and it is because Buddha taught causality (cause, condition, effect) and he relayed how experiences blossom and bloom in relation to our actions/deeds and intentions. There is no other tradition in the world that stresses so heavily causality and its undeniability. That appeals to me greatly, as there is no God to pray to or any sort of external force that must be appealed to. Although there are elements of that in many of the developed and culturally affluent adaptations, it is not something one needs to practice or progress.
Meditation becomes easier as one's attitude becomes more positive and relaxed, and this happens as one's motivation aligns itself with being of benefit to others. Our peak potential nature is purely altruistic. It is taught that the highest motivation is to be of benefit to all infinite sentient beings [including oneself], and cultivating that mentality over a long period of time with strong resolve and dedication is like a fast-path to freedom.
So you ask about Meditation, but really that question has many facets: your life and the actions you take must bend toward virtue, so that your resting mind will have the assurance that the rest is earned. It's really fascinating: the more good you do for others in the world, the easier your meditation will be, and the easier and more relaxed you are about your daily life, the happier the people around you are, and stronger and stronger we go.
So yeah, meditation is instantaneous investigation into this moment of reality and all its constituent sensory modalities, and it is also a way of abiding by uncovering more of what's already present beyond our ordinary attention.
Striving to bloom beyond the limits of conceptualization, rest in this very nodule of being.
By far the most profound practices in my life have been the practices of the Four Immeasurable States or Four Divine Abodes (The Brahma-Viharas) where actively, through repetition of phrases and skillful recollections, one cultivates Compassion, Lovingkindness, Empathic/Sympathetic Joy, and Equality/Equanimity. The fundamental notion being that these fields of awesomeness are naturally-existent potentials in everyone and can be activated, cultivated and deepened through practice and conscious effort (karuna, metta, mudita, upekkha are the sanskrit names of these 4 qualities respectively).
Be strong and loving and joyful, and may all incline toward Virtue! To meditate frequently with just a little bit of philosophy is much better than lots of study with no practice.
An extra piece of advice for anyone serious about learning meditation:
1. You'll need a teacher. Find your local Buddhist centre and chances are they'll have classes focused on teaching beginners. You simply won't learn by making something up yourself and calling it meditation, or reading stuff on the internet (including my answer) - you'll need both guidance and someone to look up to. I can't stress this enough: even the Buddha himself had teachers :)
2. "Meditation" as a technique is obviously found in countless religions and other secular systems, so that some people claim you can learn "mindfulness" as a stand-alone tool, without the Buddhist package that usually comes with it.
Although it might be possible to a certain extent, the understanding you'll have of the practice will be immensely impoverished. You don't have to become a Buddhist to practice meditation, but without some Buddhist context you'll limit yourself to an extremely diluted, dumbed-down version of the real thing. So I'd recommend you start there, and in time you'll carve your own path.
Best of luck, it's an incredible journey.
At $500-$1,000 it also seems very expensive
TM is a pretty terrible organization.